Overuse of Antibiotics May Increase the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

It's possible that a more sage use of antibiotics will inhibit the growing incidence of type 2 diabetes, according to Denmark study.

“In our research we found people who have type 2 diabetes used significantly more antibiotics up to 15 years prior to diagnosis compared to healthy controls,” said lead study author, Dr. Kristian Mikkelsen.

Cause For Concern

The connection between substantial antibiotic use and diabetes may be owed to the antibiotic’s alteration of bio-friendly gut bacteria. Without a thriving population of beneficial intestinal microorganisms food is not digested properly. This may have long-term effects on the way we process and absorb sugars.

However, the Denmark study does not prove antibiotic use raises diabetes risk. The research results might reflect a higher incidence of infection - and need for antibiotics - in those with developing or undiagnosed diabetes. More investigation will determine whether antibiotics are a diabetes causal factor, but we do know that:

  • Antibiotics are frequently prescribed for conditions they have no effect on such colds or flus triggered by viruses.
  • Antibiotic destruction of “good” bacteria in our body leads to yeast overgrowth, and interferes with nutrient absorption.
  • While some antibiotic-induced changes to our gut bacteria are temporary, others appear to be irreversible.
  • Just one course of antibiotics may disrupt our intestinal bacteria for up to a year.

It may eventually prove true that these negative effects of antibiotic overuse also contribute to the growing incidence of type 2 diabetes. Yet, the point is not to stop taking antibiotics but to use them more judiciously, and to treat our gut with TLC when we use them.

Wise Choices and Gut TLC

We can be more judicious with antibiotic use by sticking to healthy lifestyle choices, and if we do fall ill, asking our doctor questions before accepting an antibiotic prescription.

For instance, we might ask, “Would it be safe to hold off on the antibiotic and see whether my body heals on its own? If I’m still sick after a couple days rest, you can fax a prescription to my pharmacist.”

If we need the aid of an antibiotic, there are several ways to minimize its negative intestinal effects:

  • Ask your doctor about taking an antifungal such as nystatin while on the antibiotic; this will prevent a yeast overgrowth.
  • Consider taking an antioxidant supplement that includes zinc, selenium, vitamins E, C, and A, plus others.
  • Maintain regularity by getting plenty of dietary fiber, and if necessary taking a fiber supplement such as psyllium.
  • Include fermented foods in your daily diet (e.g., low sugar yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kim-chi).
  • Avoid consuming refined or highly processed carbohydrates and fruit juices.
  • After the antibiotic treatment, replenish the good bacteria in your intestines with an acidophilus supplement, or other high quality probiotic.

For people who have diabetes, these practices will support and stabilize digestive health. If it turns out that antibiotics elevate diabetes risk, then being more circumspect about their use and practicing intestinal TLC may help safeguard our children and grandchildren from developing diabetes.

Sources: NCBI; Science Daily; Newsmax Health; Mercola; Healthy Home Economist
Photo credit: Michael Mortensen

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